City Of Brotherly Love
Tom Hanks starred in a movie about it. Bruce Springsteen crooned a song about it. It’s the only World Heritage City in all of the United States. It’s more historic than Washington, D.C., hometown to more patriots than perhaps any other single location of the original thirteen colonies. It gave us Benjamin Franklin, Billie Holiday, and Grace Kelly to name but a few. And last night, this bonfire of a city won their first Super Bowl.
But what do you know of Philadelphia, what can you say for this city as parades are organized and bet debts collected at the close of the big bowl game? What do you owe Philadelphia as an American? (Were you even aware you owed it anything?)
What has this city historically done so right that perhaps we’ve forgotten to pay it credit as the years have passed since revolution?
Founded in 1682 by an English Quaker carrying the name William Penn, Philadelphia was created to be the unwavering capital of the very unique, singular colony of Pennsylvania. Long before it would play a heavy hand in the brewing and ultimate success of the American Revolution, Philadelphia –and Pennsylvania as a whole– was notable in the manner by which it was governed. Though given a royal charter from the King of England to take hold of the land, William Penn went about things a more moral way, legally purchasing it from the Lenape tribe. This act, sadly singular in its characteristic of justice, forged a friendship between the European colonists and the remaining Lenape people. Chief Tammany and Penn himself promised to hold one another to a treaty of friendship among their people. For this reason precisely, William Penn named his beloved capital city “Philadelphia,” stemming from the roots “philos” for “love” and “adelphos,” meaning “brother.”
Don’t get it twisted, Philadelphia didn’t peak in Colonial times. Irish, Italian, and German immigrants flooded to the city, lending it their own unique colors. After the Civil War, Philadelphia received an influx of African Americans during the Great Migration, and later on acquired a prominent Puerto Rican immigrant population as well. As the meaning of “immigrant” changed throughout American history, Philadelphia was there to witness that from the clearest view.
Philadelphia gave us Rocky (though the real inspiration for Rocky actually came from Bayonne, New Jersey), and it birthed the Declaration of Independence. It’s home to America’s oldest Farmer’s Market and the country’s first daily newspaper. It holds down this country’s roots and welcomes its future– so, as it happens, we owe good old Philly quite a lot, don’t we?